Selma, AL
October 1963
Led by Betty Mae Fikes
This rendition is led by Betty Mae Fikes with the Selma Youth Freedom Choir and is accompanied by piano. The song maintains enough of its traditional structure to allow for full participation by the congregation. The gospel influence is evident in Fikes's statement of the initiaiting line. One of the strongest song leaders to come out of the Movement, Fikes uses her unique and signature call to initiate eash new verse halfway through the last line of the old verse. The gospel change in melody is picked up and maintained by the full congregation.

Songleaders often localized songs by adding lyrics peculiar to their immediate situation. Many of these songs from Selma, Alabama, used names of local personalities. For example, Fikes sings "Tell Jim Clark" (sheriff of Selma) and "Tell Al Lingo" (Head of the Alabama State Troopers), calling their names as symbols of what the Selma Movement was fighting. Movement leaders were also named in the new lyrics. Spontaneous cheers and clapping greet Fikes's lines, recognition of her skill as a songleader and on-the-spot chronicler of the mood of the congregation.
Courtesy of Voices of the Civil Rights Movement: Black American Freedom Songs, 1960-1966 a Smithsonian Folkways Recording1997.
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